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We Have No Proper Entertainment Arena In Nigeria – Eddie Madaki

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Eddie Madaki is an actor, event promoter and planner and one of the first contestants of popular Tv. show, Gulder Ultimate Search. He speaks with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM on the entertainment industry and need for government support among other matters

How have you been able to merge your passion for acting with studies?

Warren Buffet said to be truly successful, you can do so working for people but to be wealthy, impact and share growth you have to have multiple strings of income.  I am lucky that my multiple strings and passion are interconnected. In the business of marketing, you have to sell and do a lot of make-believe the same with architecture. Therefore, you have to know a little about everything. I did acting in the beginning of my career but this opportunity presented itself through African Magic. The shooting schedule was quite flexible. It was a 120-episode series that had been commissioned for Season 2 called ‘Halita’ and I played the role of Hassan Akure. I am shooting for 10 days straight and have another 10 days to focus on my business and other things. We have a great team that runs and supervise so what I do at this moment is to supervise and approve a few things. Structure is very important. Delegation is very important and that is why I can do all without breaking down.

What inspired your decision to venture into the entertainment industry?

I began with music at a very young age – gospel music. I was part of a group called the Hippo Boys. We used to go out on crusade with Reinhard Bonnke and Panam Percy Paul and travel. I was about nine years old then. It was myself and Brother Andy, my pastor’s children, Joshua and Caleb. The group was motivated by the story of the Hebrew boys. It gave us a lot of exposure as it helped us understand the media and performance. When I gained admission into the university, I began promotions after which I did a lot of Tv. Gulder Ultimate Search was my claim to fame. When I did that, the exposure and access to the media, the exposure and access it gave me was the perfect opportunity for me to reconnect to my passion. Hence, I interacted with a few agencies and a few leaders in the industry. Right now, we the alumni of the agency has been advocating for it to come back because it was such a good hit. Seeing how well Big Brother is doing, I think the brand may consider bringing it back.

Have you always had the dream of being an event promoter?

I always loved the arts be it singing, drawing, music and very good in academics so the perception was that I was always going to end up as a pilot. The only form of rebellion I could do was that I insisted on studying something that could help me draw. I could not do Fine Arts or Industrial Design because as opposed to now that was considered a career for laggards and unserious people like what they used to think about Theatre Arts back in the days. Therefore, it was a middle ground something creative and also scientific and that was how I landed in Architecture. I still practise it; I have a firm in partnership with some of my schoolmates it’s called ‘studio seven’. In architecture we have seven levels, the BSC is four years so we have studios one to four, MSC is two years so we have studio’s five and six, so studio seven which is also the name is the studio of life when you are done with your training so actual practice. So most of what I do with planning of events like planning of spaces, space design, has been successful because of my background in architecture.

Journey so far in Abuja

For me it has been like a natural progression and has been really fulfilling but the truth of the matter is that operating out of Abuja has not been perfect since we started actively in 2010. Then, most of what we did was from a place of passion to show that this kind of show business can thrive in Abuja. Dealing with security issues as at 2012 and 2013 made things slow but thankfully today, it’s different and Abuja has now become a go-to centre for events. We have events like ‘Night of a Thousand Laughs’, picnics, ‘Festival of Laughs’ and all that, but this explosion started in the last three years so there was a painstaking process up to this point. However, when there is crisis there is always opportunity for gain. Having a government or economic situation globally that does not sustain free money has forced many people to be creative and that is why there is an explosion of the creative space. Films are doing better; music is doing great, reality TV is making millionaires on a daily basis. So, for me the growth has been exceptional and I feel fulfilled. I am glad I didn’t quit like some of my colleagues who didn’t see the vision and quit quite early now we are selling out arena’s 5000, 2000, 7000 capacity venue and we also have a very intimate and explosive high end social experiences and expression campaign.

Is there any provision for an entertainment arena?

I strongly believe that we are capable of multiple things the great artist, Michael Angelo, was an architect, artist and surgeon; we have actors that are artists, pilots, and professors and have fellowships here and there. So that is how I want to see myself, I think I have been blessed to study architecture, marketing and events. Nigeria is definitely backwards when it comes purpose built arena’s and facilities for social events. The only thing we have is the National Theatre in Lagos; everything else is either small theatres in Arts Departments in universities. The last report in 2017 was that the Nigerian entertainment industry was raking in about $3bn annually. Now for the infrastructure to be set up, we need government support. With this number, we believe the Federal Government would now pay attention and take note.

There are certain grants for the creative committee from NEXRIM, CBN and all that but that is only to produce content and not to build facilities that would allow for great productions, studios and arena. It is a conversation that a number of us creative artists are having and we have forums and meetings where we talk about all these. We realise it would not be done overnight but with time we hope to get policy makers and stakeholders to say that they need to develop facilities like that. We tried to book drake but their rider and expectations were so strange. It could work in South Africa and the United Kingdom but it can’t work here because we don’t have the facilities. They requested a 5000-capacity sitting auditorium and it must have seats bolted to the floor like how we have stadiums in the States and the UK.  This made sense because when you have such a sensitive high valued performer coming to a very public space where you have people, you want a fixed sitting where by the people coming there have their movement restricted to one place as opposed to having an empty space where people can run and stampede each other. It makes a lot of sense to ask but we don’t have it here. Since the business is growing, I think the government would do so.

What happened to your former business colleague at Black Collar entertainment?

We still very much in communication and I am still an acting director of Black Collar entertainment. Everything we have achieved at the end of the day was birthed from Black Collar and at the helm of affairs is Wale Akinboje. He is based in the United States now and so Black Collar operates in the States as Media Content Generation Company. Katinkandu-Aku went to New York Film School. He shot this in either 2015/2014. It’s called ‘Heavens Hell’ and has a massive star cast.

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